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Praise the Lord and pass the clinics

BY Rob Eder

“Moreover, low-cost, convenient clinics offer the best solution for improving access to care for the uninsured, individuals without primary care physicians and workers in need of routine care.” That’s how National Center for Policy Analysis senior fellow Devon Herrick concluded his recent white paper, dated Jan. 14, 2010, “Retail Clinics: Convenient and Affordable Care.”

Hallelujah—someone in Washington finally gets it.

The other NCPA—a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank, whose self-described mission is “to provide private sector, free-market solutions to public policy problems”—counts the Roth IRA and health savings accounts among its key policy achievements.

According to Herrick’s research, of 119 million emergency-room visits each year, 55% of them are for non-emergencies. Further, a 2006 survey of California hospitals reported that 46% of ER patients thought they could have been treated by their primary physician if they could have gotten an apppointment.

Herrick also pointed to a recent analysis from Minnesota health officials, which measured providers in the state on the appropriateness and quality of care in the treatment of two of the most common ailments in children: colds and sore throats; MinuteClinic NPs outscored primary care physicians 91% to 86%.

The NCPA holds a lot of hope in the ability of retail clinics to lower costs and improve health care; among its policy positions, the group believes retail clinics should be included in HSAs.

Herrick’s white paper came out too soon to include the recent results of the Take Care Health/Gallup patient engagement study. Drug Store News is the first media outlet to publish the results. Two key takeaways from the story that starts on page 1: Take Care, according to the Gallup study, “strongly engages” 3-out-of-4 of its customers, while the typical Gallup client scores only 1-out-of-5; Take Care’s same-clinic patient counts are up 60% versus last year.

The complete Take Care/Gallup white paper will appear in its entirety in the March edition of The Drug Store News Group’s Retail Clinician magazine.

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Virginia lawmakers move to block plan for mandated health coverage

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON In an act of defiance against the Obama administration’s plan for healthcare reform, the Virginia legislature this week moved to block a provision in that plan that would mandate that Americans obtain health insurance.

Health reform opponents on Thursday applauded the move, which came Tuesday when the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill that would make it illegal to require individuals to purchase health insurance. The measure already passed the state Senate and is headed to the desk of Governor Bob McDonnell, who is expected to sign the bill into law.

 

That will make Virginia “the first state to protect its citizens from a federal government mandate to obtain health insurance,” according to a conservative advocacy group called Americans for Prosperity, which has bitterly opposed efforts by Democrats to reform the U.S. health system. The group also claims that a total of 37 states are considering some form of “health care freedom act.”

The White House, for its part, has long proposed some form of mandated coverage for all Americans as a means of holding down insurance costs and ensuring that healthier Americans are also included in insurance pools. Under the Obama administration’s proposal, however, much of the cost of individual coverage could be defrayed or offset by tax cuts or other financial help for individuals who can’t afford the costs of coverage.

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Home health specialist Carex launches online membership program for patients

BY Alaric DeArment

OAKLAND, Calif. A company that makes in-home health products has launched a section on its Web site for elderly people and their caregivers.

Carex Health Brands announced Thursday the launch of Carex Care Connection, at carex.com. The site allows users to share stories and find discounts and giveaways on Carex products, which include products for mobility, bathroom safety, personal care and daily living aids, pain management and others.

“Our team at Carex Health Brands genuinely cares about the welfare of seniors,” Carex VP marketing Nathalie Kim said in a statement. “In addition to our efforts to create the most innovative and quality products in the in-home health category, we want to connect directly with caregivers and the senior community.”

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